Sunday, 14 April 2013

Surfing the Early Days (Gunston 500-1981)

It was in 1981 when everything changed forever.

I had made the change to the Bay Bowl and started hanging out at Dantes, watching the best surfers in South Africa every second weekend when I spent time at my Moms house which was just down the road. We had gone to Jeffreys Bay for the first time in summer of 80/81 and I had shared the line up at Seal Point with Simsy and Rustin, who both were standouts for the Natal provincial junior surfing team. That trip was one of the best holidays I had ever been on and it really was love at first sight. That summer a fire was lit in my soul which still burns bright to this day.

The Bay in all her glory.

Pottz surfed at South Beach, he was just another one of the guys who absolutely ripped in Durban, there were a lot of unbelievable surfers around at all of the beaches. It was obvious Pottz was amazing but so were Tucker, Burn, Hooded, Spowy, the list of red hot groms was long. I never at the time realized how high the standard of surfing in Durban really was. We were so isolated from the rest of the world and we only ever got to see other international surfers when the circus came to town for the Gunston 500. The tour surfers were like gods, I had them plastered all over the walls in my bedroom, every centimeter of wall had cut up surfing magazine pages of the world´s best surfers staring down at me 24 hours a day. I would lie in bed and dream of surfing those exotic waves that every now and again we would see when a surf movie came to town and was shown at the Jewish Club, we would go at least twice to see the same movie so it could all sink in.

The Gunston 500 was a big thing in Durban, thousands of people would flock down the beach every day and watch the contest which was in our winter school holidays, I would go down every day and I would watch every single heat, it was the greatest show on earth, I would go and just suck in as much as I could.

Pottz had just beaten Shaun Tomson in his very first event as a pro the week before the Gunston and went on a rampage that July which to this day is unequalled in the history of the ASP. He was 15 years old and in his very first world tour event he destroyed everyone on his way to the final, where MR the reigning world champ finally put an end to his charge. He did exactly the same thing the very next week at the Mainstay world tour event. He was just another one of the crew and at 15 years old had just come second twice in a row in his very first two world tour events.

I had sat on the roof of Newtons and watched every single minute, it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

1981 was a big year for lighting fires in my gut that’s for sure.


  1. Early 82 in the Cattleman one night, they showed they film of Pottz dropping in and getting pitted on that huge left at Pipe, his first season on the Rock. Etched on my brain forever.